There's a fairly fresh scam that involves several "front" companies (presumably all in Mexico) working together to defraud consumers. They prey on American travelers vacationing in such places as Cabo San Lucas, telling them they can sell their timeshare for them at an impressively high amount. To gain credibility, they claim to be part of the Sabre Travel Network (which they are not) and say that this company is willing to purchase timeshares and then use the cost for tax write-off purposes.
The wrinkle is that you need to buy a membership to a phony travel club, which allegedly allows you to stay at five- and six-star properties at highly discounted rates. Membership to this club costs $2000, plus financing fees and bank fees for foreign currency conversation on credit card charges.
They claim that you will receive payment for your timeshare within 60-90 days. But that never happens. Instead, one of the front companies insists that you must pay $700 for a title search, while another front company (claiming to handle the escrow) demands that you wire $875 in closing costs to Mexico. Then -- they demand another $800+, claiming that the bank in Mexico won't allow a wire transfer in excess of X amount of money -- and that to get your money, you have to pay attorneys' fees.
Throughout all this, there are lots of demands for documentation to prove you (the consumer) are who you say you are, but everything about them is a lie.
Here are the so-called "companies" involved:
Essential Resorts (which is allegedly a vacation property procurement company) is run by a guy who calls himself Julian Rosenthal. His colleague is Cindy Watts. This company is not licensed in the state of FL.
The Miami address they list on their web site is actually a 900 sf condo property that's zoned for commercial use.
Grand Weeks/Servicios Vacacionales. Servicios Vacacionales is ostensibly in San Diego, but it's run by Raul Mendez (possibly his real name), who works his fraud from a restaurant on the marina in Cabo San Lucas.
They are not licensed in the state of CA and the office address they use is in reality only a P.O. box. Their slick marketing materials make big promises, but their service is useless. They have two web sites, one of which is now shut down.
Financial Services International (so-called escrow company)
They are not licensed in the state of Texas, and are not tenants in the San Antonio, Texas building listed on their web site. Instead they seem to be running their scam from a boiler room in Mexico. Key players call themselves James Hoffman, Tony Rogers, and Frank Rivers.
All of these web sites were established last fall. It's quite possible that they were doing business under different names before, and very likely that they will all create new names and web sites again.